Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mother Goose at The Hackney Empire

Panto is a wonderful tonic for the post-Christmas fatigue and gloom: unsubtle, joyous, inclusive, nostalgic, loud and colourful: you just have to jump into the river and go with the flow. Don't resist; don't try to be a cultural reader; don't try not to join in!
In pantomime reside the remnants of music hall and in east London pantomime is perfectly urban, multicultural and simultaneously modern and old-fashioned.
The Hackney panto is a full-blown rose, with some great singing and the marvellous Clive Rowe as the pantomime dame, wearing costumes that challenge Grayson Perry in all but sexual content.
Everyone in the cast knows their craft thoroughly enough to keep the pace at one hundred miles an hour (after a strangely slow first five minutes).
I'm afraid I don't know any of the other cast names but the Good Fairy had such a fabulous singing voice that it sent shivers down my spine; the bad fairy did a hilarious bit of ad libbing that made the Dame quip: 'At last... a bit of the script we recognise!' when she got back on the rails again.
It was bright, funny (oh those awful jokes: so lazy that when he has a cold he sticks his nose out of the window so the wind can blow it), risqué with some perfectly placed adult moments that soared way above the children's heads, great musical interludes (the cheesy version of Happy had a neighbouring little girl dancing deliriously, and transcended the cheese by making so many children, well, happy), digs at bankers, gentrification and Guardian readers (they know their audience) and colourful, colourful costumes.
All this and strawberry or chocolate ice cream in the interval too!
We were accompanied by a fellow academic and her taxi driver partner. I was concerned in case it was all just too silly, and I didn't dare look. The bad fairy appeared. 'BOOOOOOOoooo....' ricocheted a deep voice from further along the row: 'BEHIND YOU!!!!'.
Pantomime is for everyone, innit!

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